Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not so secret garden

Once upon a time, behind a wall, there was an mansion surrounded by a lovely garden. Many times I went past it, perhaps catching a trace of the perfume of flowers blooming, peering through the gate. Perhaps there was something magical on the other side, a world of beauty like I had not before seen.

And then one day, the gate was open, and I strolled within....

Wouldn't that be a lovely start for a fairy tale? Who doesn't love secret gardens, mysterious mansions, and gates that finally swing open to admit you? In this case, the garden was the not-very-secret grounds of the Ewing Manor, where the Illinois Shakespeare Festival is held each summer. I'm sure I could have wandered inside long before today, if I'd thought of it, but that wouldn't make a good start to a fairy tale, would it?

The grounds are small but pleasant.

Although it was pleasant enough, the garden was spectacularly unbirdy. Since I recently acquired a yard that I plan to transform into a bird friendly garden (one Avian Haven coming up!), I should take notes about what not to do. Vast swathes of lawn, everything manicured, little diversity of plants--perhaps that's what's keeping the birds away?

I saw crows, which flew off before I could try to get their picture, and many, many house sparrows.

Starlings were nesting at the top of that spout--the babies, which I never got a glimpse of, created quite a racket whenever the parent flew up with a beakful of earthworms to share.

There was also a small Japanese-style garden.

Although it was quite attractive, I found myself quickly getting a little bored with the grounds, and retraced myself to neighboring Ewing Park, hoping perhaps to find a warbler or two still lingering in the area.

I like this park because it is deliberately untidy in places, the better to attract a nice variety of birds.

But very little was going on this evening -- a cardinal and an indigo bunting, both singing, and a noisy chickadee. My morning walks around the pond at work have gotten pretty dull as well. I think spring migration has definitely wound down.

Before going home, I made one last stop at Tipton Park, to see if the pair of swans that have been hanging out there were still in residence. Greenturtle thinks they were probably brought in on purpose to be decorative, but I think they can come and go as they please and have just chosen to linger. One day I saw six of them, and one flew away while I was watching.

I really had to work for that photo, as the swans seemed to have an uncanny ability to drift to the furthest point of the pond from wherever I happened to be standing.

One pied-billed grebe still lingers.

And of course many, many red-winged blackbirds.

1 comment:

  1. What lovely photos! Now I regret that I never ventured inside Ewing Manor's gardens...although Hedgeapple Woods is more to a bird's liking. The swans at Tipton Park are so lovely; I hope I see swans at Seney.