Posts Tagged: woodpecker

Impatiently Waiting for Impatiens

28_Feb_2013Tomorrow, March 1st, 2013 will be the second week since I planted some Impatiens seeds in the same large pot my indoor Ficus Tree currently calls home. Plant World Seeds is a wonderful mail order seed company I discovered last summer. I get emails from them from time to time and one email featured their Impatiens. I love the Impatiens or Busy Lizzy as they are commonly called. I purchased a few from my local garden center Holly Acres Nursery just before autumn of 2012 arrived. I realized I would not have long to enjoy the plants for as soon as the first frost hit, they would be gone. I decided the half whisky barrel on our front porch which was in full shade all day would be the perfect place for the Impatiens. They would keep the Empress Wu hosta company I thought. On a side note, this hosta did not grow at all since planting it in August. I am not sure if it was due to the higher than normal temperatures but it just sort of sat there. I saw no new growth so when I placed the Impatiens in the planter, I was very happy when they started growing rapidly as if they knew they had to put on a quick show before the freezing temperatures arrived. What a show they put on! They grew quickly and offered beautiful orange-red flowers which more than made up for the poor showing of the hosta. Alas, when the freezing temperatures came, the Impatiens collapsed and all I could do was hope that some of those flowers dropped seeds so that I may see them come to life again in the spring.

impatiens_blue_diamondAs I was saying, Plant World Seeds sent me an email featuring their line of impatiens. I was immediately intrigued when I read their description for a variety of Impatiens called IMPATIENS ‘BLUE DIAMOND’:

Hidden in a remote part of Tibet in the Himalayas lies the world’s deepest canyon, the uninhabited Tsangpo gorge, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon! And discovered there as recently as 2003 in the barely-explored Namcha Barwa Canyon was an extremely rare beauty, the first ever blue impatiens that also happens to be easy to grow! This fantastic, fast-growing plant has sizeable flowers of the most remarkable sapphire blue with a contrasting white throat, amidst attractive serrated leaves the colour of polished jade. Unlike the traditional flat-disk shape of other bedding impatiens, these constantly-produced flowers resemble elegant cranes in flight. This priceless new gem is a perennial species when grown indoors or perhaps in very mild winter areas. (aka Blue Dream)

Now, when you read that, how could you not want to grow this variety? I ordered several packets and I have taken their suggestion of growing this beauty indoors to heart. My Ficus is in a large blue pot with a small ground cover type plant growing beneath it. I thought if these Blue Diamonds could fill out the pot, what a wonderful display it would be! I had been meaning to look up when I could expect the seeds to germinate and according to sites I have read, the approximate germination time is 15-20 days so I may have a week or two before I see sprouts. I have several self-watering plastic pots that once housed some of my Streptocarpus plants so I may see if I can start some more in preparation for transplanting in the spring.

25 February 2013 – Downy Woodpecker spotted!

Female_Downy_Woodpecker_on_BoughIf you read my ‘Welcome Visitors’ article, you know that I am committed to looking after the birds that come to visit. I am so happy that I have a healthy number of birds visiting now for it would mean they will control the insect population during the warmer months. As I expressed the before mentioned article, I was concerned that birds were ignoring the suet log. Well, I am pleased to announce that woodpeckers have discovered it. This in itself is good and bad news. I must have did something wrong when placing the plugs into the logs for when the woodpeckers came to dine they managed to poke the plugs out and onto the ground. Thankfully I got to them before the squirrels did. I placed them on the platforms of the other feeders in hopes the finches, etc. would enjoy the treat. They did of course but to my surprise when looking out the window I spotted a female downy woodpecker!

She stayed there eating clinging to the platform of the feeder with her front feet and joyfully picked away at one of the plugs. I sat in awe watching her and was pleased she stayed for at least five minutes. I have not seen her since but I do see larger woodpeckers visit so it is definitely a blessing that my backyard bird population continues to grow and diversify.

I will be sure to keep you updated on all the progress with the Impatiens and birds that come to visit along with all of the exciting events to come as spring approaches. Until then, Happy Gardening and blessings to you all.

Image Credits:

Image of Impatiens Blue Diamond is used with permission from Plant World Seeds
Image of female downy woodpecker is an image found on Wikimedia Commons
Image of orange-red Impatiens was taken by the author.

Welcome Visitors

23_Jan_2013The weather has turned warm and after two weeks of bitterly cold temperatures in the teens and single digits, this is definitely a most welcome change. With warmer weather comes the urge to step outside and assess what is happening in the garden. The answer is nothing really as all the plants are still sound asleep but still it is nice to get outside and have a look around.

With our new home, I have worked hard to set up as many feeders as I can to accommodate my winged friends that visit the garden. I am a choosy host and really only want the small birds to dine. As such, my main feeder is one with a cage around it so only small birds may enter and dine. This comes complete with a squirrel baffle as squirrels are not welcome at all. I will create a future post regarding my battles with the resident squirrels. The caged feeder is dangling from my aspen tree and beyond this, I installed a shepherd’s hook to accommodate a thistle feeder and another feeder strictly serving safflower seed. The reason for this is again to discourage the larger, greedier birds (jays, etc.) as they do not typically enjoy safflower. Conversely, the finches, etc. do.

I am of the understanding that gold finches are permanent residents but I have not seen any on my nyjer feeder. Now and again, the house finches will partake but overall it has remained close to full all winter. I will leave it up for any bird that wants this expensive delicacy with the hope the gold finches will find it and regularly grace my garden with their presence.

With three feeders, I thought that would be enough but I wanted to see the woodpeckers. Some reading this may be asking why on earth I would want to attract these birds that can often damage your home. The answer is simply that I love them. When living in Arizona I would see them regularly and yes, they did damage the home but I have learned the secret to negating damage from these beautiful birds is simply to feed them. As a result, I have set up a suet log with a baffle on the advanced pole system from Wild Birds Unlimited. Installing was made a bit more difficult by trying to twist the main pole into the frozen ground but in the end, I was successful. I now hope birds will find it and enjoy the high protein suet I have set out for them.

Update 11 February 2013

After installing the suet log and advanced pole system, I was disheartened that the log hung there untouched day after day. I did have woodpeckers visit the garden but only to stick their long beak into the caged feeder and gobble down seed. Though this made the seed disappear much quicker, I did not mind for at least I had woodpeckers in the garden. So, what to do about the unused suet log?

The feeder I had dedicated to serving only safflower seed is by the far the most popular feeder for the finches. I then thought what would happen if I moved it to the other hook opposite the suet feeder. I did this two days ago. Despite my efforts, I noticed that yes, although the finches found and happily ate from the safflower seed feeder, they still ignored the suet.

I typically eat my lunch while staring out the kitchen window reveling in all the bird activity in the garden. As is the norm, the finches were happy dining on the safflower seed but then I noticed something. There was movement on the suet log! Yes, a small female finch was clinging to the log partaking in some suet. This made me very happy and I only hope other birds discover the log as well because warmer weather is certainly coming and I would hate for any of the suet to go to waste.

Would you like to share your experiences with feeding suet to our most cherished winged garden visitors? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading.