|Squirrels assume my mission in life is to feed them.|
Our big day for rain was Saturday. I measured 12 inches of rain in 24 hours; friends told me their rain gauges overflowed. The backyard became a lake, the birds and squirrels eating from the feeders all day, soaked and cold in the rain.
|The Rosebreasted Grossbeak loves sunflower seeds.|
A Rosebreasted Grossbeak discovered the feeders and began chasing other birds away. Now he is a regular. The finches gladly line up six to a feeder, but he wants to be the whole show. Nothing was more comical that a young squirrel using the platform feeder to stand near his feeder and flail at birds coming in for the food. The platform feeder was lowered and the other ladder, the allegedly squirrel-proof feeder, was moved away from the house.
The seeds I scattered were doubtless food for many birds and squirrels, and just as likely to be attacked by fungus or bacteria. However, living seed has a powerful drive to germinate and grow, engineered by the Creator to take advantage of any opportunity. I poured out sunflower seed soaked by the rain, and the seeds were already sprouting. More seeds around the feeders are growing with their distinctive sunflower leaflets. Corn is also growing in the front and back. Perches are surrounded by square feet of Wild Strawberries.
Berries Are Easy To Grow
Most plants - even grass - flower, fruit, and produce seed. Berries produce attractive fruit, sometimes edible for humans, always edible for animals. The pollen and nectar are useful foods for beneficial insects. Below are the berries I grow, and the critters eat, making me the Dr. Dolittle of Springdale.
They were growing here in the yard when we moved here, and they have grown ever since, encouraged by many bird perches. They flower and fruit early in the spring (last month already), even in the deep shade. With watering they will spread through their runners. They look like tiny rubies in the lawn and the gardening areas.
| Elderberries grow easily and fast,|
creating lots of little black berries from these compound flowers.
I once had two plants - now I have sprouts as well. One plant is ten feet tall already. The other is shorter but already producing distinctive umbrella flowers that become a zillion little elderberries.
These are growing in semi-shade. I made sure they were watered in the late summer drought.
|This may be a Southern delight, but I will pass on it.|
|Triple Crown Blackberries have no thorns and grow like weeds.|
Blackberries - Unstoppable
I had to grow Blackberries, so I ordered Triple Crown several years ago. They are now on three sides of the house and thriving in the cracks in the driveway.
|Pokeweeds produce Pokeflowers that yeild Pokeberries.|
Poke salad needs to be prepared correctly, because the plant and berries toxic to humans, but not to critters. I consider Pokeweed a free beneficial insect and birdfeeding station. Birds must love the berries, because the books say over 60 species eat them...and plant them where they rest. They surge from the ground in early spring and branch out to form flowers adored by beneficial insects. Next the berries arrive and birds enjoy them, air freighting them to favorite perches.
|Pokeflowers are delicate, crawling with beneficial bugs.|
The Pokeweed is a work of management genius. God creates an easy to grow berry (sun, shade, semi-shade - tolerant of all conditions, deep rooted, perennial) - the birds which love the berry spread the plant.
I have a triangle of favorite plants in the bird-feeding area. Two are Butterfly Bushes. One is Pokeweed. Soon I will have bees, butterflies, birds and squirrels using the plants as their habitat. I left one Butterfly Bush large enough to serve as the waiting room for the birds. Pokeweed and Butterfly Bush tolerate pruning.
If a Pokeweed is growing in the wrong place, I can remove it and let it drop its berries in the Wild Garden.
|Gooseberries - only a mirage so far.|
I have one bush, which is spiney, as promised. They become fruitful as long as three years later. The plant has given me no trouble and no berries - as far as I can tell. See the sad tail (squirrel tail) of the Blueberries below.
|The dream, but not the reality.|
Almost Eden sold me Blueberry plants, which like acid soil, so I mulched a garden with pine needles (free! and plentiful!). Once they began to fruit, I saw one cane bend in the oddest way, then again. There was no wind, but I saw a fluffy squirrel tail marching away. Now I am content to dote on the canes and let the critters enjoy them.
I ordered some ever-bearing canes a few years ago. Don't. They have no taste. Get Heritage or another one known for flavor. All Raspberries will spread from the roots. They should be in one area by themselves or not planted at all.
Rose Fruit - Rugosa If You Want Big Hips
| If you want big hips, search for old-fashioned roses,|
which are not known for the flowers but for their fruit.
Rugosa (for rag-like) Roses are old-fashioned, very hardy, extremely drought and shade tolerant. Rose Hips are the source of Vitamin C for many vitamin producers. They have a distinctive sour but pleasant taste.
Birds love them, too. I grew my only Rugosa from a little twig Direct Gardening sent me. Neglected and forgotten in the Wild Garden, it continues to grow. I have given it rainwater baths, but it started so small that it needs more time to produce.
Beautyberries Are Ornamental, Toxic, Loved by Birds in the Fall
| I enjoy growing these Beautyberries, |
which seem to just sit there in the Fall,
then they are eaten, a good reserve for the animals to enjoy.