Bird Haven

June 21

robins, June 16

FEED me! June 16 June 21

June 18

Just a quick update on birdlife in and around the nursery.  The robins that built their nest on the porch light have 3 babies  (there were 4 eggs – one didn’t develop all the way and I found it under the nest today). A hungry raven was hanging about one day, but I successfully scared it off.  There is a second robin’s nest – right in the middle of the nursery in a big elderberry bush. Haven’t seen any babies yet.

 There is also a junco who for the second year in a row, has built a nest among the stack of pots.  Last year, the nest was closer to the ground and something got all the eggs.  This time the nest is higher; so far so good!  The mama is very brave and won’t fly off her eggs until I am just a few feet away.  Then she alights close by and tries to get me to chase her. If that doesn’t work, she flies into the Bigleaf Maple sapling that shades the field growing beds.  She fusses: “Chit… chit… chit… chit!” 

 As these babies get ready to fledge, I’ll have to keep PJ, my Springer Spaniel bird dog/compost turner on a leash, I think.  She already caught two fledglings earlier this spring.  A tragedy, but I couldn’t punish her for doing what she was bred for!  She was so proud of herself.

 I’ll be working out a schedule of Open Days for July and August shortly.  Check the website, or ask to be put on my email list for updates. — Shirley

The weather is about to break

The weather is about to break.  It has to, or we’ll all go insane!  Hopefully we’ll have a sunny day on Saturday (June 12) for Picnic Day.

A lot has been happening at Tadpole Haven.  Many more plants are ready than just a month ago:  Smith’s Fairybells, Orange Trumpet Honeysuckle, Waterleaf, Serviceberry and more. We’ve got a new Bat House – it just needs some summer residents. The Robins are on their second brood – the first didn’t make it, nesting on top of the cabin’s porch light. Our plants are growing very lush (check out the Wood Ferns, Lady Ferns and Inside-out Flower).  The pollinators are busy (bees et al on the Waterleaf, flies and beetles on the Goatsbeard – anybody know the species?).  The Chorus Frog tadpoles hatched a while back and like to hang out around the sides of their kiddy pool.  And we’re trying something new to help shade the nursery this summer: vegetables!  Why not?  We’re watering anyway.  Though it’s hard to imagine right now, some parts of the nursery get blazing hot in the summer, which really stresses many plants.  We’re planting beans, peas and corn in strategic places so they will provide shade – I hope they are tall enough by July to do some good.

It’s been pretty good weather for native plants, though I have seen a little more fungus activity than normal — spotty leaves, for example.  If a plant  in your yard – native or “exotic” – seems to regularly suffer from some kind of fungal disease, it is probably not in the proper conditions.  At Tadpole Haven, we generally don’t treat our plants for a minor fungal problem. We don’t use fungicides.  We may trim off the infected foliage to keep the fungus at bay.  And if a plant or a group of plants in the nursery is really threatened by some fungal pest, we’ll try putting them in a different location, either out of the shade so they get more heat and light, or under the trees or hoop house cover where they will be drier.  It seems to be a wise nursery practice to not put all the pots of one species together in one place – that often prevents a fungus from spreading.  Plants in containers have special needs – they are more vulnerable to any kind of disease or pest or weather extremes.  Maybe I should baby them, but I don’t.  I often call Tadpole Haven “Boot Camp for Native Plants”.  If they survive here, they should do great in your garden!  I think that’s actually true.