Natural Landscaping

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Two years ago, our new home was a blank slate. Nothing grew on our lot, not even weeds. We’re located on a hillside, and the summer rains were eroding the subsoil left by the builder. It could have been discouraging, but I couldn’t wait to get started.

Landscaping is so much fun! It’s a chance to be creative and to express one’s personality. While I had some help with the overall design (the builder provided a voucher for a professional designer), the result is exactly what we had in mind. Our little piece of Colorado Springs reflects my love of birds and other aspects of nature, plus my husband’s desire for a place to relax.

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Bountiful Bugs

Mountain Bluebird_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_1248-001The bulldozers are at it again. Another swath of short-grass prairie is being turned into houses. I can’t complain—I live in such a house. A mere three years ago, birds and bunnies made their home in what is now my yard. The voles and cottontails are still here and thriving, largely at the expense of my landscaping. The birds—assorted sparrows, hawks, Say’s Phoebes, Horned Larks, Scaled Quail, and Killdeer—decided to go elsewhere.

Now I’m trying to lure them back by replacing what nature has lost. Instead of the typical neighborhood rocks-and-grass “zero-scape,” we’ve included shrubs and trees that offer wildlife food and shelter. Native shrubs such as three-leaf sumac, manzanita, Boulder raspberry, buffaloberry, and chokecherry all offer berry-like fruit. Our roadside oak will one day provide acorns, the limber pines have seed-filled cones. Seeds come from native grasses and flowers, too, while dwarf conifers and dense shrubs offer a place to hide from predators and the weather. My nectar garden feeds hummingbirds and other pollinators. Feeders offer additional seeds and suet, and my heated birdbath is a year-round source of water.

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Going Native

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We hear that it’s better to choose native plants over exotics for a variety of reasons. They’re perfectly adapted to the soils and climate. They host native insects that provide food for birds and other wildlife. They fit into the landscape, providing a “sense of place” that exotics can never match. But what is a native plant?

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Bedside Birding

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They’re just House Finches. How often have I thought that? House Finches are everywhere. They were the first birds to my feeders, the day we moved into our house, and they’re still the most frequent visitors. How interesting could they be?

It’s been over a week now since I bent over—just slightly, carefully—and did… something… to my lower back. I’ve done this before. I know the routine. Cold packs, ibuprofen, not too much bed rest, patience. I’m healing, but it seems to be slower this time. And while I’ve been able to hobble around the house, bent over in pain, I’ve had to spend most of the last week in bed.

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June Bird Quiz: Uncropped Photo

If you were stymied on Monday, now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in September. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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Charming Saponaria

It’s such a pretty plant, petite and delicate, only a few inches high and covered with quarter-inch flowers of the softest pink. It’s the kind of groundcover perfectly suited for small spaces, rock gardens, and fairy bowers. It can even be used as a lawn substitute, as it tolerates limited foot traffic. With so much to recommend it, I’ve often wondered why this hardy perennial isn’t more popular. Perhaps it just needs a better name. “Soapwort” fails in the marketing department!

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June Bird Quiz

Can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in June. I will post the uncropped photo on Saturday, giving you one more chance to identify this bird. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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