Monthly Archives: March 2011

Enticing Birds into Your Garden

Rudbeckia before they go to seed

This is the time of year when all my work to entice birds into the garden begins to payoff.  The rudbeckia that I allowed to go to seed are being feasted upon.  You haven’t seen cute until you’ve seen a black capped chick-a-dee dangling on a slender stem grabbing the seeds.  The debris I allow to stay on the beds below my shade trees has become home to all kinds of critters that the juncos, crested sparrows, varied thrush and towhees love to scratch for.  Mr. & Mrs. Robin like it too.

The suet feeder (that we keep full year-round) is now attracting a pair each of ruby crowned kinglet, townsend’s warbler and downy woodpeckers. If there are pairs, there will be babies!  This feeder is hanging from a branch of our Hinoki Cypress and is visible from our living room window.

The berries on the Cotoneaster franchetii are nice and mushy now, just right for the robins and flickers.  This is true for the Viburnum sargentii, Aronia and Sarcococca ruscifolia as well.

The “chipper pile” as we call it (pruning debris from last year and this spring) is alive with the ground-nesters; mostly sparrows and wrens.  We discovered by accident that leaving this pile from fall through to the next summer brought as least a half dozen new species of birds into the garden.  If you don’t want to do a debris pile, you can create a “thicket” with various ornamental plants.  Climbing or rambling roses left without support work very well.  A dense planting of Berberis or Pyracantha works too.  Allowing vigorous vines like Clematis Montana or ternaflora to grow on a low support will also provide a predator-proof place to nest.  My Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa nana) and Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ and ‘Elegans’ along with the neighbors’ 50ft. Doug Firs and Port Orford Cedars supply the birds with good shelter from spring storms and good nesting places.  I leave dead wood around in several spots to encourage the critters that feed on that wood. They provide good food especially for the wood-peckers and flickers.

My husband has to work a little harder to keep the sunflower, thistle and millet seed available for those birds who are expending a lot of energy courting and mating.  We often mix egg shells in with the seed to provide some extra calcium.  Be sure to sterilize them in the microwave and pulverize to a fine powder.

Ribes sanguineum 'Brocklebankii'

The humming birds are kept happy with the blooms of Viburnum bodnantese ‘Pink Dawn’.  This tall shrub blooms from November through March. The hummers will then move on to the scarlet Flowering Current that is about to burst.  Pulmonarias are a perennial that are a special favorite of the little birds too.  These are low growers so be sure there is open space around them so that cats can’t sneak up on the birds.  Andy and I happened to see a Humming bird gathering dryer lint from a shelf in my breezeway.  What a gift!

I’ll be getting my main water fountain up and running soon.  My decorative bird bath will replace the winter substitute and a little fountain on the front porch completes the group.  Moving water is known to attract migrating birds in if even for a brief visit.

As you may have concluded, the more variety of plants and micro-environments you can create in your garden, the more variety of bird you can attract.  Have fun trying to entice the lovely and unusual into your garden.


How I Selected Vines and Shrubs to Cover a Fence

When I moved into my home, I inherited a neglected garden that was surrounded by a cyclone fence with brown vinyl slats.  From the start, my goal was to disguise the fence as quickly as possible using evergreen shrubs and clematis.  Impatient as I was, I took a year to assess my site.

One way I did this was to discover the views of my garden from inside my house.  My kitchen window affords the most interesting view.  I created a landscape that would please me as I cooked and did the dishes.  Roses, lilies, peonies and the like created a colorful view during the spring and summer, but I wanted year-round interest.   After the year of deliberation, I decided to plant the fence with Jasminum officinale and Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’.  I dreamed of having fragrant white flowers from the jasmine in summer echoed in the winter with the creamy bells of the clematis.  This combination has turned out to be a success.  The jasmine is now fully mature and reaches up into a nearby spruce.  Its stems are always green and attractive.  During a mild winter, it will even retain some leaves.  The blooms are small but numerous enough to be visible from my window.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream'

In the winter, the clematis takes over.  Its foliage is surprisingly glossy and attractive and the bell-flowers are of a size that makes them clearly visible from a distance.  Wisley Cream begins to bloom in late October most years and continues until March.  Only dips in temperature to the lower 20s or upper teens delay the blooms.  As soon as the temperature rises into the upper 30s during the day, the blooms begin to open again.  The fence has protected the plant from the fierce east winds that do damage to many evergreen plants in the Portland area.

Clematis 'Viola' blooms in front of Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

One other window I gaze out of is the dining room window.  From my usual seat I wanted to be able to see shrubs and clematis all summer.  I chose the semi-evergreen Daphne bholua to serve as a screen.  It also offers winter interest as long as the winter is not too severe.  On the fence I planted Clematis ‘Viola’, a summer-blooming clematis with royal purple flowers that are slightly cupped.  The vine has happily taken off and covers 12 feet of fence with stray stems climbing into the daphne and the hydrangeas that grow on either side of the fence.  A favorite, if accidental, combination is Viola straying onto the ripening mophead flowers of Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’.  The color of the clematis against the pale violet young mopheads make quite a show.

Combinations like these keep the garden lively and keep me involved with my garden throughout the seasons.


Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the Joy Creek Nursery Blog.  I found as I was putting together galleries for Facebook I wanted to be able to expand on certain ideas and sometimes that required more words than were necessary for a caption.  So I thought, how could I create this thing that had more words and a few pictures where we could expand on and share our experiences here at the nursery.  Eventually this blog was born.  There are three articles already posted and more are in the works. There will be monthly articles from Maurice about clematis, Mike’s experiences living in the Garden, notes from Nadine on new plants in retail and good combinations, and I will add pictures to all of these and write about whatever happens to cath my eye.  We hope that you will find us helpful and entertaining and make sure to leave any comments you have because this is a community and we are all gardening together.  Thank You.


P.S. As promised… Here is Yowler

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow