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Garden Photo of the Day

Garden Photo of the Day

Beth's garden in Iowa, Day 3--Attracting wildlife

comments (23) April 24th, 2013 in blogs
MichelleGervais Michelle Gervais, Senior Editor
178 users recommend

Siberian iris and peonies
2 WAYS TO ENLARGE: Click directly on the photo to enlarge in a pop-up, or click HERE to see this image, larger, in a new browser window.
In the Bird Garden
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The wonderful house wren with a bug in its beak. Pesticides are no longer used on our property AT ALL and I believe a lot of the credit can go to these little friends.
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One of the owls who lives in the woods behind our home. We have no rabbit problems in our yard AT ALL and I believe it is because of the owls, the hawks, and the foxes here.
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A catbird who loves to follow me around the yard and watch what I do. No matter where I go, he is a few feet away and seems interested in gardening!
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A tiny visitor
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A tiny resident
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A tiny nest that blew into my garden one day and appeared to have just been completed and never used before it blew away
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A groundhog that we must convince to be taken to the nature trail a few miles away
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A mushroom family I spotted in the back garden, so I decided to see what our house looked like from their vantage point
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Siberian iris and peonies
2 WAYS TO ENLARGE: Click directly on the photo to enlarge in a pop-up, or click HERE to see this image, larger, in a new browser window. Click the image to enlarge.

Siberian iris and peonies

2 WAYS TO ENLARGE: Click directly on the photo to enlarge in a pop-up, or click HERE to see this image, larger, in a new browser window.

Photo: Courtesy of Beth Zakrasek

Welcome to Day 3 in Beth's Zakrasek's garden in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Continuing her story once again, she says, "I use absolutely no pesticides in my gardens. I rarely find insect damage, not even slugs on hostas. I have decided that it is because we have so many birds who spend their summers in our yard, and we also have many frogs and toads and garden snakes. I have wren houses all over the yard and up on our hill. A wren family nests in every one of those houses every summer which means that we have 9 wren families on our property each year. Their diet consists entirely of insects. We also have goldfinches, robins, cardinals, chickadees, house finches, bluebirds, catbirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers, flickers, titmice, juncos, doves, owls, hawks, and wild turkeys. And, of course, hummingbirds. I have seed feeders and hummingbird feeders near our patio where we can watch the activity from our kitchen table or from the screened porch" Yup. Eschew pesticides and the birds move in and make your pests their meals. Common sense! So glad you have it, Beth. :-) Yet again, beautiful. ***More info in the captions, and even more pics tomorrow. There is SO MUCH TO SEE in this garden!!***

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posted in: Iowa

Comments (23)

Schatzi writes: Beth, your property is truly an inspiration. Gorgeous! I have been drooling over it all week. I have been a Washington State Univ. - Pierce County master gardener for almost 20 years, and appreciate your "no drugs" approach to gardening. And the results are awesome. I have 5 acres in western WA that I have been trying to civilize for many years. With our mild climate, it is an on-going battle to keep the weeds down and the woods back, but I love gardening. We have spring peepers here too, but they are usually emerald green, often with 2 copper stripes on their back. Gorgeous little guys. I have made my peace with the garter snakes, which are pretty much all we have here, since they eat mice and slugs, and they "run" away faster than I used to!
Michelle, I love-love-love this blog! Thank you so much for doing it and thanks to all who send in pics of their gardens.
You are all my gardening friends. Posted: 11:34 am on April 25th
Schatzi writes: Beth, your property is truly an inspiration. Gorgeous! I have been drooling over it all week. I have been a Washington State Univ. - Pierce County master gardener for almost 20 years, and appreciate your "no drugs" approach to gardening. And the results are awesome. I have 5 acres in western WA that I have been trying to civilize for many years. With our mild climate, it is an on-going battle to keep the weeds down and the woods back, but I love gardening. We have spring peepers here too, but they are usually emerald green, often with 2 copper stripes on their back. Gorgeous little guys. I have made my peace with the garter snakes, which are pretty much all we have here, since they eat mice and slugs, and they "run" away faster than I used to!
Michelle, I love-love-love this blog! Thank you so much for doing it and thanks to all who send in pics of their gardens.
You are all my gardening friends. Posted: 11:33 am on April 25th
Happily_Gardening writes: And I thought "day 2" was spectacular?! Where is the "LOVE" button for this series?! Posted: 10:46 am on April 25th
Chefin1950 writes: Great garden Beth, all parts of it!! Despite tractor1's "toadstool" categorization, the mushrooms in your garden look like they might be Wine Cap Stropharia (Stropharia rugosoannulata), which are quite tasty! How great to be able to forage in your own garden. But have them identified by a mushroom expert before you try them. Photos can be deceiving ;o) Posted: 3:53 am on April 25th
BethinIowa writes: I have decided that I do not need to feel sad and worried so often when I read or hear the news of our world, but rather just go here, to this blog, where there are so many gentle, caring, nature-loving gardeners talking with one another! To answer or address a few of the comments today, please read below:

****Mona42, I love your idea and I decided, the moment I read your suggestion, that I will create a book of some kind! It is so easy these days to compile photos and create a bound book, with text. I am now excited to begin!

**** JaneEliz, a groundhog has lived under our screened porch for years! Who knows if it is the same one each year, but I named it Charlie anyway. Then, Charlie had 3 cute little babies last spring, so I changed Charlie's name to Rosie and I named the babies Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Rosie had never caused much trouble for me, just eating a sweet potato vine or a pot of petunias here and there. I quickly learned what to NOT plant within her grasp. But...we planted our first edibles last summer in a new raised garden that my husband,son, and 2 of my piano students built. Rosie mowed them down in 15 seconds one day. No more groundhogs under our screened porch from now on! I must say, she is a beauty, though, very big and with a luxuriant coat. The one in my photos is one of her babies.

**** passwords, we had our feeders over our patio for years, then this past summer I moved them to the Bird Garden and all the hulls fall under the tall Star Anise and daylilies. I learned to offer only sunflower seeds to the birds. They are their favorite, anyway, and if any little sunflowers come up they are easy to pull, but with a good layer of mulch it has not been a problem. Outsmarting the squirrels and raccoons has been a duel of the minds: mine and theirs, and there were times when I thought I would lose mine!

****NevadaSue, you MUST visit Iowa! As a Texas girl who has spent many, many summer weeks camping with family in Colorado through the years,I can tell you that Iowa is a very, very special place to me. My husband is from Colorado, lived in Texas for 19 years, and he feels the same way about Iowa. From the rolling hills of farms,woodlands,and streams in eastern Iowa, where we live, to the flat farming land of central Iowa which was tallgrass prairie land-- once home to thousands of bison--then on west to the amazing natural wonder of the Loess Hills, and then crossing back to the east to the cliffs along the Mississippi River...the state has much more natural diversity than many people realize. And, to quote my husband each spring: "Things just EXPLODE out of the ground here!" Our natural hillside is an incredible example of how fast and abundantly things grow. It always amazes us every year.

****thevioletfern: I love your game of peanuts with the bluejays! I am going to follow your lead and have some fun with the bluejays in my backyard IF the squirrels don't beat them to it. Yes, we do have water nearby in the form of a natural underground spring that collects in a little stream in the wooded ravine behind our yard! One of our favorite sounds each spring is the high peeps of the tree frogs back there. We call them the Spring Peeper Frogs.

****tractor1, your news of your barn cats brought many happy memories to mind from when I was a kid. Growing up as we did, on a farm, we always had cats with kittens and we had a few dogs with puppies through the years, as well. My dad raised pigeons as a hobby of sorts, and we had chickens.He also kept bees and we had fresh honey. There were horses through the years,and my brothers had 4H projects with sheep and hogs. I was in heaven with all those animals to visit with after school.

****tntreeman, I kept that nest in the photo,too! It is in a bowl in the living room with a hawk's feather,a special twig I found in Colorado,and a fully opened cotton boll and a Devil's Claw from my mom's farm in Texas. Nature's treasures are the best. Yes,a friend sent me a photo of a hummingbird's nest with 2 of the tiniest eggs you could ever imagine. It was lying on the ground after a big storm,eggs intact.Those eggs are smaller than English peas.Some time back, I read that they do, indeed, create their nests from lichen,moss,cotton fluff,dryer lint and glue it all together with spiderwebs.

****UCMG2000, I have figured out that if the wrens cannot see another wren house from the location of their own, they will allow other wrens to be in the same "terriroty"! We do have a big back yard,though,and I have 4 houses back there,one in each side yard, one in the front yard,and 2 up on the wooded hillside. We have a bluebird house behind our backyard in a clearing near the woods and stream. I'm thinking I would like to put up an owl house next, in the woods.
****meander1, I've GOT to get me a Fried Green Tomatoes hosta! Posted: 12:14 am on April 25th
cwheat000 writes: Great wildlife shots! Posted: 11:09 pm on April 24th
flowerhealing writes: Our community vegetable garden was nibbled to the ground by a mother woodchuck and her babies last year, but we scared them away by surrounding the raised beds with dog hair from a local dog groomer. Pinwheels also seemed to help. Posted: 10:55 pm on April 24th
Mona42 writes: Your garden is so beautiful, and so are your photos. You should think of making a book. Years ago I bought a book about Tasha Tudor's garden by Tovah ?? (can't remember her last name; pretty well known garden writer) and your photos and garden remind me of this. Posted: 9:27 pm on April 24th
JaneEliz writes: Beth, I am enjoying your lovely garden and all its wonderful creatures so much!
How lucky to have an owl! Yes, I agree with tntreeman- no groundhogs welcome here , altho they come each year to live under my shed...briefly until I trap them and deliver them elsewhere. They are cute, tho. Wonder what's next... Posted: 7:15 pm on April 24th
passwords writes: Beth, you've created a bird lovers/gardeners paradise. Nice photo's and I'm sure you were pleased all those birds/critters just sat there waiting to be photographed. I thought that the seeds from the bird food would get into the grassy areas and send up weeds???? No problems with that? Posted: 5:13 pm on April 24th
NevadaSue writes: Beth, I have been drooling over your yard all week but running too much to stop and write. It is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing the birds, nest,and creatures of your yard with us. I really like the Barred Owl sitting in the winter forest. He looks like he is garding your place. :) I have always thought Iowa was a neat state and your pictures make me think I need to come and explore it more as it seems every thing grows with such lushness. You have done a fantastic job of creating a wonderful outdoor living space that is truely a feast for the eyes and soul. No pesticides is the way to go for our planet and it looks like the little creatures are greatful to you for making them such an inviting home. I'm looking forward to tomorrows pictures. Thanks for sharing with us your love of gardening. :) Posted: 4:35 pm on April 24th
thevioletfern writes: Words I LOVE to hear - I don't use pesticides! I don't either Beth and I expect our house wren to return any day. I have been enjoying your garden. I especially love your porch and bird garden. We recently added an enclosed porch in back although it still needs a bit of finishing. My favorite pastime is to sit in our new porch and watch the birds. Each evening I play hide and seek with the bluejays by hiding peanuts throughout the garden - they never miss a trick! I love the mushroom vantage. I hope to add a small frog pool this year - do you have water close by? Beautiful owl! I have big, fat rabbits Mr. Owl - send your friends! Posted: 4:00 pm on April 24th
thevioletfern writes: Words I LOVE to hear - I don't use pesticides! I don't either Beth and I expect our house wren to return any day. I have been enjoying your garden. I especially love your porch and bird garden. We recently added an enclosed porch in back although it still needs a bit of finishing. My favorite pastime is to sit in our new porch and watch the birds. Each evening I play hide and seek with the bluejays by hiding peanuts throughout the garden - they never miss a trick! I love the mushroom vantage. I hope to add a small frog pool this year - do you have water close by? Beautiful owl! I have big, fat rabbits Mr. Owl - send your friends! Posted: 4:00 pm on April 24th
tractor1 writes:

Yay! I finally received the GPOD email.. I hope all is repaired.

I really enjoyed today's photos with all the critters, and I like that owl. Spring has officially arrived... today I removed the snow plow from my tractor and attached the mower.

The temperature reached 70 degrees and my barn cats are very happy. Newt has been out and about and his pal Cali had two kittens... not Newt's, he was fixed more than six months ago... we already have a home for the kittens. Cali brought her kittens up to the rafters and is keeping them safe on the catwalk... Cali is next to get fixed. This is Newt & Cali, always together like two peas in a pod: http://i37.tinypic.com/2sb99qa.jpg


Posted: 3:12 pm on April 24th
tntreeman writes: looking at your birds nest, i once found a hummingbirds nest during fall clean up. i still have it in its own glass box as i doubt i'll ever find another one. tiny tiny and made of lichens and what looks to be spiderwebs Posted: 2:53 pm on April 24th
UCMG2000 writes: What a beautiful sanitary. With all those nesting boxes, I am wondering about the size of each bird's territory. How big is you garden? Posted: 2:14 pm on April 24th
BetsyE writes: These photos made me smile! Posted: 1:34 pm on April 24th
Bonsallblonde writes: Beth,

Congratulations on letting mother nature take care of the few pests you have as you practice healthy gardening ways -- you probably have very few as the plants are strong and healthy. What a heavenly sanctuary for the wildlife and you.

We speak the same language!

Always blooming,

Lorie

Posted: 1:27 pm on April 24th
wittyone writes: The little nest is just beautiful. I found one that looks much like yours. It is all lined with what looks like down. So soft and cozy looking and beautifully formed.

How do they do it with just their little beaks to work with??? Posted: 1:27 pm on April 24th
Sheila_Schultz writes: Beth, your yard seems to be an 'all things living' sanctuary. It's a very special place. Posted: 9:50 am on April 24th
tractor1 writes: Today's Nat Geo photos are the best yet. The only thing missing from those toadstools is the grinning Cheshire cat. Thank you, Beth, for the safari!

Now three days in a row, no GPOD email. :,-( Posted: 7:29 am on April 24th
meander1 writes: Hi, Beth, for some reason, the internet gods locked me out from getting a comments box so I couldn't get in my daily fix of sharing how much I enjoyed the day's pictures. Your offerings yesterday were delightful and today's are particularly special since they show your beautiful harmony with nature's creatures. Thanks for being "brave" Monday night and sharing by name some of your hosta that you are extra fond of. I know what you mean about getting hooked on a name (Guacamole came to live at my house for much the same reason as yours and, fortunately, it is a great looking hosta). I also had to buy one called Fried Green Tomatoes since I live in the Southeast.
Love your last picture showing things from the mushroom's point of view...made me smile. Posted: 6:33 am on April 24th
tntreeman writes: more beautiful photos and i'm jealous of all except maybe the groundhog since they eat my tomatoes here as high as they can reach! also i am envious of your natural pest controls,, i have plenty of birds but still have slugs i think i need more frogs, toads and snakes. not sure how the snake idea is gonna fly with my wife but might spice up the garden walks a lot! Posted: 4:33 am on April 24th
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