Friday, May 20, 2011

Avian haven, the before series


They say that moving/buying a home is one of the most stressful things a couple can do. (Who's "they"? demands the ghost of English teachers past. Ummm...I don't know. The people who make surveys of the most stressful things?) (Also please note that "birding" is not on any of the Most Stressful Things lists. Just saying...or, as Greenturtle and I like to put it when we are arguing, "I'm just pointing out"!)

And you know what? "They" are right. It IS stressful. The whole process leads to disagreements. Case in point, as you can see in the above photo: our new home comes with a decent sized yard. And that yard has been halfway over-run by bamboo.

"Cool!" Greenturtle declares. "We have our own bamboo jungle!" He loves the bamboo. Any mention of trimming back (we have not even mentioned eradicating) the bamboo meets with immediate disagreement.

So what's the problem with bamboo? Well, if you want your backyard to be an exotic bamboo jungle, there is no problem. But let's say that you want to turn your back yard into an oasis for birds. Midwestern birds, I might add. As in, those that live in or migrate through the state of Illinois.

If that is your wish, a bamboo jungle might not be the best choice. In fact, a post on a website I've recently found (thanks to Sunwiggy) uses a photo of bamboo to illustrate their post on avoiding planting invasive species.


The problem is that bamboo is an exotic, invasive species. Native wildlife might not find it conducive to making their home. And...it spreads. Look at the photos, it's already spreading across the yard!

Today, after my half day at work I went to admire my new home and poke around in the garden a bit. As I peered into the bamboo, a robin and a grackle flew out. It also seems to be quite popular with house sparrows.

So, it's not the worst plant in the world. It does provide shelter. And, from a non-avian point of view, it does make a great privacy screen. We have neighbors on one side, a non-scenic alley in the back, plus a place of business catty-corner. And I can't see any of it, thanks to the bamboo! Also, as we have found a home smack-dab in the middle of town, and bamboo doesn't have seeds or berries for birds to carry about, I don't think there's much chance of it spreading into the surrounding countryside. Anyway, here in the agricultural wasteland of central Illinois, invasive bamboo might even be an improvement. GMO corn and soy beans aren't natives, either...and I think more birds can shelter in the bamboo than one of those crop fields. Especially since henceforth, for the entire length of my tenure here, my yard is a Pesticide Free Zone!

As Greenturtle is so opposed to any bamboo control, tackling that will not be one of my first projects. Except maybe to trim it back...just a little?

Despite the mountain-load of work ahead in this garden, I can still see why I was charmed on my first (and second) visit to the property. This is a garden with potential. (The garage in the back is mine; the blue building belongs to the neighbor.)


I love the fact that there are four raised beds, for example. What I don't love is that the raised beds are completely overgrown.


The daisies are pretty.


And is this an iris?


And what are these?


It's my understanding that the previous owner of the property was an older lady who went blind, and after she passed the house sat on the market for quite some time. That explains why the general flair and tastefulness I have found has sadly grown a bit neglected.


I really do consider these the "before" pictures!



Here's our future patio:


Luckily, I love a challenge! And already, in my mind's eye, I see this garden as both an Avian Haven and a refuge for stressed out humans. Furthermore, I think the previous owner would have approved. I was so pleased to learn that the first thing that caught my eye in the house, the tiles on the kitchen walls, were hand-painted by the former owner. If that's not a sign that this was meant to be, I don't know what is!





OK, everything needs a really good cleaning! I don't compare myself to the character Monica on Friends for no reason! I plan on scrubbing, washing, and cleaning all weekend before we move in! (I did originally have "sanding" of hardwood floors on weekend agenda but somehow have listened to Greenturtle's suggestion that perhaps weekend plans were over-achieving? Especially as I have never sanded a floor before? [Alas, I have cleaned before...and cleaned...and cleaned.] That's right Greenturtle...I said, "You were right!" Maybe someday I'll hear the same back re: the bamboo? Breath NOT held in anticipation!)

This house is 95 years old. It has always been my dream to live in an older house. An since we were really house-shopping on a budget, I think this is great for us.



You know, I am still so new to all of this that I'm wandering around in a bit of a daze: "Is this really mine? For real? I actually bought it?" I have been such a gypsy all of my life that it's a strange feeling. Truth to tell, I never expected it. But, as I have always wanted a garden of my own---and for the birds---I am so excited at the possibilities.

So, consider this "Esmerelda's Avian Haven: the Before Series." And if backyard birding is not your thing...don't fear. I still plan on a regular series of Crazy Birding Adventures to keep things interesting!

My Yard List so far:

AMERICAN ROBIN
COMMON GRACKLE
HOUSE SPARROW
NORTHERN CARDINAL
EUROPEAN STARLING
MOURNING DOVE

Finally, if any of you have experiences with bamboo, or any suggestions on how to deal with it, please don't be shy! I need all the advice I can get!

1 comment:

  1. Your new home is beautiful! What gorgeous floors. The tiles are just lovely, and I recognized every species. How sad, though, for an artist to lose her sight. What a great start you have in your yard; I'll research the bamboo. One of my many gardening books should have something. Yes, that is an iris, and I think your mystery flower is a dianthus, or "pink". I can't wait to come in July and see it all! Mom

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