Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A little bit for the birds

This summer as everyone knows has been hideous as far as droughts go. We finally got to the point were we just quit watering everything since it was becoming very expensive to do it. Occasionally "save the plant" watering did occur for some of the more expensive perennials but nothing more than that.
We had also planted some small annuals--including veggies---but most didn't survive since we just couldn't water them enough.
Even with all the mulch we had acquired---it just didn't work out well for them with the high temps and no rain.
But now that I am getting ready for the fall I felt it was time to post about this plant known as a cypress vine (or maybe it's a cardinal vine---I am not sure which it is since they are closely related).
I actually received this one (and only one) plant as a start when I did some volunteer work for a research/organic garden in downtown Chattanooga (Crabtree farms). I planted it---and forgot it. It was only watered once when it was planted--never again after that. However---it went on not only to climb my fence but take over that corner of the fence and a bench too. I even quit allowing my husband to weed eat there since it might get some of the vine. This vine just went crazy---and remember it is just one plant. One little seed. So, considering how well it did---I will plant it again next year.

It's very pretty and we have had a number of hummingbirds visit it in the morning after they visited the four o clocks by the patio.
Next year---now that know it grows so well, I will use it to disguise some of the uglier spots on the farm. You know--those places that just are not pretty either because they still need work or that just can't help being kind of "ugly" (like the windowless side of a shed or something).

Also, I wanted to remind everyone that fall is technically here now. Soon we will have colder weather (I think we will anyway) and the birds might need a bit of help to survive. This spring with our freaky late frost that killed a number of plants then the drought the wild animals are low on their native foods. In our yard alone we will not have any oak nuts, hickory nuts, maple seeds, wild persimmons, blueberries, apples, pecans, and for some reason no rose hips either. That's a lot of seeds/mast foods to be without. The wild ones will be hungry---especially if we have some really cold snaps that require high energy foods.
I have a number of these feeders below that I hang out. Some years more of them go outside than in other years, but this year I will make sure all of them go out and stay as full as I can keep them with seeds/sunflowers etc. I will even put out corn for the squirrels since, though I don't care for squirrels too terribly much (they are somewhat destructive and they eat my apples and other fruit) I don't want to see them starve to death. I would much rather a hawk got to eat them instead.

So though it's nice to place plants in the spring and summer that bring in those pretty hummingbirds and colorful songbirds---don't forget that the winter can be important too. Especially after a year like this.
One other thing for the birds that they really appreciate is shelters. Bird houses are used even in the winter. It's where they shelter from the cold and icy storms that blow up. So grab a bird book at your local library or bookstore and build some bird houses. Not only is it a fun fall project but next spring you may have lots of baby birds in your yards.

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