Garden Ornaments

Saturday, December 5th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • There’s still time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, but don’t delay. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are still available.
    • Clean up rose bushes by removing spent flowers and raking up old leaves, but wait until February for heavy pruning.
    • Plant Paperwhite narcissus in pots this weekend for holiday gifts.
    • Don’t overwater your houseplants in the winter. Empty saucers after watering.
    • Feed the birds this winter and enjoy the pleasure of their company. Bird feeders come in many styles and make wonderful gifts.

Garden Ornaments

Decorative ornaments serve to personalize the garden, making it more than an attractive arrangement of trees and shrubs. Garden ornaments can be almost anything, from home-made sculptures of endless variety to sundials, wind chimes, statuary, fountains and gazing globes.

The gazing globe, one of the most romantic of garden ornaments, is back in style. Also called a reflecting orb or garden ball, they date back to at least the 16th century. They regained popularity early in this century and are now back again.

Gazing globes are available in a wide range of sizes and colors. They come in sizes from 4 to 12 inches in diameter and are made from hand-blown glass or stainless steel. The glass globes are silvered on the inside to create a mirror that reflects the expanse of flowers across the garden within the orb. “Glow in the Dark” globes are especially popular. Luminescent crystals emit a soothing green glow for hours after dusk!

Gazing globes are set on pedestals and used on lawns, in flower beds and woodlands, and around garden pools. Stands come in a variety of heights and styles to compliment the landscape. They are an outstanding feature in the garden. Photographers like to use gazing balls to enhance photographs.

Garden statuary covers the whole range from animals and dwarfs to Asian, classical and religious figures, large and small. They can serve as focal points or rest quietly among the plants to be discovered by keen observers.

Birdbaths and fountains also come in a wide variety of styles. To attract birds, they should be placed near large shrubs where the feathered fellows will feel safer with a nearby bush to dive into. Fountains and waterfalls can be the centerpiece of an area, with the sound of running water creating a relaxing atmosphere. Most fountains simply recirculate the water so you only need to fill them up when water evaporates.

All concrete basins should be covered with plastic in the winter here so that they do not hold water. When water freezes, it may cause the concrete to crack and leak.

Even bird feeders can make nice garden ornaments. Some feeders are decorative and cute while others are strictly functional. But the birds that come to them will add their lively decor to the yard as they flit about in the garden.

Garden stakes are increasingly popular. From dragonflies to suns and moons, these small ornaments add charm and interest to potted plants or garden beds.

Stepping stones and garden plaques can be displayed in the home or in the garden. They add a distinctive focal point to the outdoor living area.

Garden ornaments will extend your living area into the outdoors adding color, character and your personal touch to your home decor and interest to the garden throughout the year.

Attract migrating birds to your garden

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Chrysanthemums are the brightest flowers for the fall garden. Plant some now.
    • Choose shade trees for fall color now and plant them while the soil is still warm.
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue and white and can be planted now.
    • Divide overgrown water lilies and irises. Repot using heavy soil with no organic matter or packaged Aquatic Planting Medium.
    • Crimson clover, fava beans and purple vetch will fortify your garden soil over the winter. Seed these crops as you compost your summer vegetables.

Attract migrating birds to your garden

Many different birds pass through our area each year, sharing their colorful plumage and distinctive songs with bird watchers. Birds offer us our best chance to observe wild creatures close at hand. To attract birds to your garden, you need to create a habitat that contains the resources that they need: food, water and shelter.

The best way to attract birds is to offer them something that they have trouble finding in your neighborhood. If there is no water around, put out a birdbath or build a small pond. Birds are strongly attracted to the sound of running water. A small fountain or tinkling little waterfall is sure to bring them to your yard.

If there are no winter berries in your area, plant a pyracantha or holly bush and they will come. If you have an open yard, plant shrub borders along one side and trees beside the shrubs. Create an island of trees, shrubs, and flowers and add a birdbath and you will be providing birds with a wealth of food, water and cover.

Plants offer birds food, shelter and nesting sites. Birds favor areas where different kinds of vegetation come together. Trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses and vines offer a variety of advantages to birds.

Seeds come from annuals, perennials, grasses and evergreen trees. You will have to let your flowers dry and go to seed to make food for the birds. Gloriosa daisy, purple coneflower, asters, coreopsis, sunflowers and ornamental grasses are excellent seed sources. Cone-bearing evergreens attract finches and crossbills.

There are many shrubs that have winter berries. Nandina, holly, viburnums, pyracantha, Japanese barberry, privets, dogwood, hawthorn and crabapples, to name a few. A few vines make berries that are attractive to birds. These include English ivy and Virginia creeper. As vines get large and bushy they provide a pleasant place for birds to take cover as well.

Of course there are a wide variety of bird feeders to attract birds also. Nuthatches, titmice and chickadees visit seed feeders, suet and even seed tables and ground food. Sociable finches love Nyjer thistle, which needs a special feeder. Robins and towhees will come to feeding tables and are attracted to peanuts and dried fruit.

Whether you are creating a new landscape or making changes in an old one, try to attract the birds to areas where they are visible from a window. Most birds prefer shaggy shrubbery, so let the plants grow naturally.

Few birds are comfortable feeding or drinking in the open for very long. Most birds prefer to have cover nearby to hide quickly from dangers. Place bird feeders and baths so the birds can reach shrubbery in a moment but not so close that a cat can pounce on them from a hiding place.

Fall is a good time to create a bird habitat, or to make plans for planting one next year.

Make this Holiday One for the Birds

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by Jenny Watts
    • Fruit trees can be planted now from containers while the soil is easy to dig.
    • Water living Christmas trees frequently while they are indoors, and put them outside after a week or ten days.
    • Spring bulbs can still be planted now. They make lovely gifts for friends and relatives.
    • Sasanqua camellias, like the bright red ‘Yuletide,’ have lovely, delicate flowers that bloom through the winter months. Find a place for one of these hardy shrubs in the landscape.
    • Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you. We wish each of you good health and abundance in the New Year!

Make this Holiday One for the Birds

Watching birds feeding, bathing and playing in your backyard is a joy for almost anyone. The birds are beautiful, of course, but their visits serve an important purpose, reducing plant damage from insect pests. Birds are a welcome addition to the garden.

You can attract birds to your yard with bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths.

There are different types of bird feeders. The best all-around type is the cylindrical plastic feeder. Fill them with a good birdseed mix and they will attract a wide variety of birds, including nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, rufous-sided towhees and sparrows.

Window feeders allow you to watch the birds close-up from inside the house. They stick to the window with suction cups. They are especially nice during bad weather so you can still enjoy the company of your feathered friends.

Niger seed feeders, or thistle feeders, are tubular plastic feeders with very small holes for thistle seed. They are especially popular with goldfinches who will entertain you all day long as they squabble over the perches.

The feeding table attracts larger birds that like to dine together. Robins, finches and evening grosbeaks will gather happily at backyard feeding tables.

Hummingbird feeders are filled with sugar solutions that supplement their diet of flower nectar. Anna’s Hummingbird winters in this area so will come to feeders year-round.

Oriole feeders are bright orange and attract brilliant orange-yellow orioles to the garden, where you can enjoy their distinctive whistle along with their colorful plumage.

Birdbaths will attract birds throughout they year, both to drink and to bathe. Watching the activity at the birdbath can be very entertaining, and there are styles of birdbaths to go with any garden decor.

Birdbaths made out of concrete are very stable and make an attractive addition to the garden as well as providing water for the birds. Hanging birdbaths may work best in some locations. Site your birdbath near trees or bushes where the birds can retreat to dry off and preen in safety.

In addition to food and water, birds need a safe place to raise their young. Nesting boxes, or “bird houses,” will encourage the birds that visit you in the winter to stay. The size and type of the nest box and its entrance will determine which birds use it, because different species are attracted to boxes of different dimensions. Specialty boxes are available at stores that handle bird supplies.

Make this holiday one “for the birds.”