Posts Tagged ‘wa state dept of fish and wildlife’

A Spring Garden Walk

Welcome to the front entrance to our home.  The tree in the center is a cultivar of the Port Orford Cedar, or Lawson Cypress, called “Wissel’s Saguaro”, due to its branches sticking out like the arms of a Saguaro cactus.  An interesting creature to greet our visitors.  The shrub with the red berries behind it is a large Nandina domestica “Moyer’s Red”.

Entering the front garden.   There used to be a large Arborvitae shrub where all the small plants on the left are now.  It was some 8′ across and 7′ tall.  That was until the snow hit in February and crushed the life out of the center of it.  We had to remove the whole plant (tons of work!) and replace it with a new collection of wonderful plants.  We lost our privacy but gained a new view of the garden entrance.  It feels very welcoming now as you enter under the arch formed by the Japanese maple on the left and the Oregon Green Pine on the right.  The wonky looking sign in front is from the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, designating us as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary.  We welcome many wild creatures here.

Taking the next steps into the garden.  On the left you can just see a very fragrant Winter Daphne, and on the right is a gorgeous PJM Regal Rhododendron in full bloom.  The bench is a fine place to sit and read or just view the garden.

A better view of the Daphne, with a species Hinoki Cypress over it.   The tree will get large in time and provide a nice sheltered corner for the front porch.  At the right is a large Sappho Rhododendron waiting to bloom.  The hanging items are a hummingbird feeder, a wasp trap and our rainbow wind sock.  More food for the birds and safety and beauty for us.

Sitting on the bench and looking back at the entrance to the garden.  The large deciduous tree on the right is a Sango Kaku Japanese maple and the conifer on the left is the Oregon Green Pine.  You can see a bit of the arch they create together.  The large shrub in front of the bench is a Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae.  It has very interesting foliage and cool winter color.

The stone path leading to the back garden.  On the left is a small Weeping White Spruce we put in to replace the large Blue Spruce we removed last fall because it was going to get too big.  A sad loss but it’ll save us heartache in years to come.  The hedge on the right is deciduous and just greening up.  It’s been here for over 40 years and it’s still going strong!

Entering the back garden from the path by the house.  The walk is covered with several inches of bark to keep it clean and attractive.  Nothing will grow there because it’s too shady.  Oh the left you can just see the light lavender flowers of the Rhododendron cilpenense and a bit of a red Unryu camellia.  The small Magnolia on the right suffered greatly in the snow and will never be the same.  But I staked it up a lot and it will recover at least somewhat.  Much patience will be required!

A view of the center of the back garden.  You can’t see the trees too well because they’re still dormant.  They’ll look much more lush in a few weeks.  Sorry it’s so dark here – it was an overcast day, as is common in April here in Seattle.

The center from a side view. The large shrub on the left is a dwarf Coast Redwood called “Kelley’s Prostrate” that only grows to 2 feet tall and about 7 feet wide, so far.  The species gets a huge 360 feet tall.  It’s so nice to have the redwood foliage here in our small garden that could never accommodate the larger species tree.  The fountain gives us hours of pleasure listening to its gentle sounds, much like a small creek or stream.  Imagination does wonders when your eyes are closed!

Looking into the side of the garden a bit further down from the last shot.  The small pink flowers on the right belong to a “Howard McMinn” Manzanita, and the bright pink one on the lower left is a “Kramer’s Rote” heath.  Above the heath is a small Lily of the Valley shrub and at the back is a large “Pink Icicle” camellia just coming into bloom.

You’ll see this as you walk the path I showed in the last photo.  The tree in the back is a “Wintergreen” Japanese Umbrella Pine, which also took a hit in the snow.  All these branches used to stand straight up.  Now they’re all wonky.  I doubt they’ll pull themselves back up, but ya never know.  I’ll give it time before I do any corrective pruning.  On the right you can just see the trunk of a contorted Japanese Larch called Diana.  The branches twist and turn most interestingly.  It’s been leafing out for a month now with its small bright apple-green needles.  I’ll do a post on it someday.

This is taken from the same spot as the last one only turned a bit to the right.  You can see the camellia and the cool lantern we had made for us out of wrought iron.  It helps light up the small deck you can see below it.  In the back is a large Radicans cryptomeria which will dominate the area in years to come.

A few more steps bring us to this shot of the deck, with the lawn and the house in the background.  This little deck is a sweet place to hang out and read or just listen to the sounds of the fountain next to it (you can’t see it here).  The upper deck by the house is a great place to spend some time sunbathing in private, and is a good place to have company over for cookouts.

Full circle – this is a shot of the walkway we entered the back garden through.  The bare tree on the left is an “Eddie’s White Wonder” dogwood just about to burst into bloom.  It got Anthracnose last year so we’re spraying it with Neem oil every week or so to try to eradicate it.  It won’t kill the tree but it looks terrible as the summer progresses.  I hope we can kill it off!

Here we circle back to the inner yard to see the veggie gardens and the greenhouse on your left.  The water barrel gives us enough to water the greenhouse most of the year, except in summer when it doesn’t rain. (Yes, we have Very dry summers here!)

A closer view of the greenhouse.  You can see the seed starting bed on the left with its plastic cover that holds in the moisture and heat to help the seeds germinate.  I put the curtain over the lower part of the door so I can go out and work in the greenhouse naked without spooking the neighbors.  I do it outdoors too when they’re all gone.  More on that later on!

Here’s one of the veggie gardens.  We planted the trees and heathers along the north end to tie the beds to the other parts of the garden.  We lost some planting space but still have plenty of room for many crops.  The bees love the heather flowers and they help pollinate the garden.  We grew enough onions and carrots last year that we’re still eating them today.  It’s so yummy to grow your own food.  We even have some Kale that overwintered in the back by the fence.  Sweet and tasty!

This is the last shot.  It shows how the veggie gardens and the ornamental ones merge with the path through the lawn between them.  We have gates on all sides of the garden to be able to visit the neighbors.  So far we’ve had good ones, though we’re waiting to see who buys the house next door.  They all help make this a great neighborhood to live in!

So that’s the tour.  Sorry it was an overcast day, but I hope the photos came out well enough for you to see what I was hoping to show you.  It’s an exciting time in the garden now with so many plants bursting with their new spring blossoms and others just breaking dormancy and starting to leaf out.  It’ll all look so different in a few weeks as the trees put on their new summer leaves and the other plants continue to bloom.  It’s such a joy to be in a garden in the Spring!

May your own gardens grow bountifully!

Steve

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Caring for the Birds

I’ve talked here a bit about the fact that this is a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary as registered with the WA State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. It’s something taken seriously here. This is a picture of my partner Louie feeding the birds, something he does at least twice every single day and sometimes more. He uses a Wild Bird Seed Mix which he’s putting into the feeder in this picture tho you can’t see the feeder. Next to him on his left is a High Energy Suet mix we put out in the cold times of the year and sometimes other times. We have feeders in the front and in the back as well and also have a Hummingbird feeder that even now has hummers out seeking its sweet juices.

We have a large assortment of birds here. Some of them we know of are the BlackCap and Chestnut Backed Chickadees, the Northern Flickers, Bluejays and  Stellar’s Jays, Rufous Hummers and other kinds I don’t know the names of, Finches including a  golden colored one, American Robins, Downe Woodpeckers, Starlings, Red Breasted Nuthatchs, Bushtits, Song Sparrows, Wrens and of course the Pigeons, Crows and Seagulls.

We may have others as well but I’m not a bird person so I don’t know the species of birds as well as the plants. We sometimes are visited by a Northern Harrier Hawk as well and we have pictures of it sitting in this apple tree just waiting for its next meal. We don’t begrudge it of course. It has to eat too and a pigeon or two now and then is a small price to pay for seeing such a magnificent bird. We also glimpse Bald Eagles overhead on many occasions but none have ever graced the garden and I doubt they will as we have no tall trees for them to sit in.

In addition to feeding the birds with feeders we feed them with plants too. I have so many bird and insect friendly plants I’ll mention only a few. There’s the Bee Balm of course that the Hummers love and so do the bees of all sorts. The Oregon Grape with it’s blue berries on the plants now and the Mahonia Charity which is blooming now in November with its bright yellow flowers and following blue berries are both favorites. The Choke Cherry is covered with fruit now and so is the Huckleberry. The Nandinas have bright red fruit that draws some birds as do the Pines with their cones. The Wintergreen and Salal have berries that they love as does the Manzanita uva ursi or BearBerry. It seems many of the Ericaceous plants are bird and insect friendly. Of course the Queen Anne Cherries overhead and the Italian Plum are favorites when they come into fruit and we don’t even get many cherries due to the crows and other birds but that’s ok. And the Apple in front is eaten exclusively by the birds as it has insipid fruit we don’t even like to make sauce of.

And besides food there is the issue of cover and forage for them to hang out in and be safe from predators like the hawk. There are many plants here that fill that role, principally the conifers and the bushy large shrubs that line the back of the property and the large front hedge of Arborvitae.  The side hedge of mixed deciduous plants is always full of little birds calling and tweeting and making a delightful chorus of sound and rustling noises. It’s so wonderful to walk out in the yard and hear them at their play and work getting seeds and berries to eat and singing to one another. And even the dwarf plants I’ve put around here and there are sources of cover for the birds to hide in and stay low to the ground where they’re safe.

We also have water easily available to them and you can just see the birdbath in this picture next to Louie. We try to keep it full at all times tho of course now the rains do that. In the back yard we have a large fountain that proves a wonderful place for the birds to clean themselves and especially when it’s running they love to play in the water and get clean and make a mess of the bowl but who cares? It’s some work to keep it clean but it’s worth it as are the other aspects of having a bird sanctuary. The birds also love to play in the water when I water the garden, especially the Hummers who dance around in the spray and seem enthralled with the water as it falls and tumbles to the earth.

We also have squirrels of course and an occasional raccoon, and the feral cats who keep the rat population down quite well. We’re grateful for them but they don’t let us get close tho we sometimes give them some tuna to show our appreciation for their essential work. We don’t have a dog tho Louie would like to have a couple and someday when we don’t travel as much as we do now perhaps we’ll have some. I have my trepidations but I know dogs can be a fine addition to a garden and home if they’re not digging up my favorite plants which they certainly won’t be doing. Animals are a nice part of all this and I love even the silly antics of the squirrels as they eat the bird food and play around with each other.

Plants and Birds are such a natural combination we couldn’t imagine living without the two together. We’ve made a big point of welcoming them to our garden and it’s so worth it to be able to enjoy their beauty and hear their songs I can’t envision a garden without them. I encourage anyone who loves birds to consider getting a bird feeder or two and setting them up in your garden, and to try to find plants that have fruits and berries and nuts and seeds that birds can forage and live on in your garden so that they’ll stay around all year. We have many transitory birds and see different ones at different times of the year of course but there are always birds in our yard. It takes work to be sure but it wouldn’t be complete without them. Go for it. You’ll find it so rewarding I’m sure you’ll be happy you did. And so will the birds.

Happy Birding,

Steve