We run our landscape and design business out of our home here in Houston Heights. This means we are home much of the time. Working at home has its benefits, like a short commute. It also means you must be self-motivated and find ways to give yourself a break to refresh your mind and spirit. We both love plants and wildlife, so slowly over the years our garden has become an active wildlife habitat. Including going through the steps to become certified by The National Wildlife Federation.
It is easy to do and nothing you must rush into or need to spend a great deal of money on. We plant plants that attract pollinators, birds and squirrels. Yes, squirrels, they are little acrobats that never cease to amuse me. We let them hang from the feeders and share the bird food we cast out on the brick path.
We rarely have problems with them digging up plants except an occasional bulb. We do have to cut off the peanuts we put out from them and the Blue Jays in autumn or they will dig up every pot to try and save them for winter. The Jays are not pleased!
Our domesticated animals like the peanuts too!
Our latest projects have involved birds. We got a 3rd water source. A pretty blue birdbath, we ordered through Statue Makers here in Houston. We added marbles, so pollinators could come get a sip too!
We have been planting woody shrubs and small trees all over our property. We noticed the cardinals are very fond of our Purple Montrose Vitex. Other small trees include a Mountain Laurel, Saratoga Gold Yaupon holly, Weeping Yaupon holly, Weeping Redbud, along with 3 large American Sycamores in the RofW. In the back next to where we store our trailer we have L to R, Sweet Olives, Beautyberry and Pride of Houston Yaupon holly in the corner.
We planted the Callicarpa longissima – A beautyberry “tree”, a year ago after it was rejected by a client. It froze to the ground in January and is over the neighbor’s garage 6 months later. The berries will be a nice treat this autumn and winter. This long green hedge is made up of orphan plants from jobs, either rescued or unused. We like to trial plants whenever possible. I would use all of these in projects. They take nearly no maintenance except for a bit of trimming if you need to use them to stay in a smaller space. Our little cottage looks out onto this green wall. The larger trees in the back ground are where some of the larger birds hang out.
The latest addition to our habitat is birdhouses (nesting boxes). These are for small birds and we will see if they find them appealing. We decided to use the landing on our second story. This is left over from when the house was an upstairs/downstairs during WW2. It is on the north side, the second preferred direction according to my research. Two are hanging and quite safe. The other 3 are hung on welded wire. We think it will making it hard for rodents and reptiles to invade. We thought the height would make it easier to fly in and out of. We are on a learning curve so not sure this new installation will work. One good resource I found on bird houses is from the site Texas Parks and Wildlife.
A Purple Martin house is still on my wish list. It might seem silly, but I often feel like I am living in a Disney movie. You walk out and there is a kerfuffle of motion as everyone scatters.
My favorite part is the songs. Birds songs are so interesting when you are sitting in a quiet house and letting yourself listen. I am coming to identify them and some of their meaning. They have come to call out for food in the morning. In the spring I hear songs to attract mates. You can hear the distress in there calls when they send off an alarm if a hawk is nearby.
There are several ways to help attract birds to your garden, going all organic, planting native plants, multiple water sources, nesting places, feeders and nesting boxes. For a complete list from The National Wildlife Federation click here.