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Bird-By-Bird Gardening

April 1, 2007

Bird_by_birdChers Amis,

It’s raining in Georgia!  Hooray!  The garden has been refreshed, the sickly yellow-green cast rinsed away and the clouds of pollen collecting in quiet puddles.  The sheltered part of our deck is still powdery, but the pink dogwoods are actually pink and the azaleas fuchsia and flame.  Happy sigh! The hard red clay should be much softer tomorrow and ready to yield to trowel’s gentle pleading.  What is one to do on a dove grey spring day with a quiet rain falling?  Read gardening books and  daydream about  shady, leafy nooks full of bird song.  If this sounds like a nice afternoon to you I have a book to recommend,  Bird-by-Bird Gardening: The Ultimate Guide to Bringing in Your Favorite Birds-Year after Year 
by Sally Roth.

I just love the picture of the Oriole and the bright cover design.  It just grabbed me at the "Just In" section of our library and hasn’t let go.  As the title suggests, it is both a birding and gardening book focused on bird families or the groups of species you would like to attract.  The first four chapters discuss how birds are classified by looking at their feeding habits and behavior, help you determine which birds you can expect to attract, and give you quick overview on the basics of bird needs.  The remanining chapters are organized by bird family i.e. woodpecker, nuthatch, kinglet, warbler, hummingbird.  Each chapter has short sections that:  introduce you to the family of birds, tell you what to look and listen for (color/call),  range, migration, and habits (where they nest/forage/feed), habitat preferences (in the wild or in a backyard), natural food and feeder food preferences, water and nesting needs and little extras.  Additional sections provide a "Top To-Dos" for each family, a listing and explanation of the "Surefire Plants to Attract" a given family and an illustrated landscape plan with a plant list including hardiness zones. 

Whew! that was a lot of info.  The photos and graphics are nicely done and the information is useful.  I like that in a book.  Too many nice coffee table books are just that, paperweights with glossy photos.  Now I know why I have swarms of chickadees and titmice – I have the very shade garden they suggest –  a redbud, oak, cinnamon and royal fern. I also know what I need to plant this spring to attract bluebirds and the elusive tanagers.    It is a nice book and an attractive read. 5 stars.

I also found a fun website to peruse if you are looking for additional ideas on what to plant Dutch Gardens. I have never purchased anything from them, but they have a nice search able database of plants.  I am always looking for new drought tolerant shade-loving plants.  I am a bit heavy on the hostas and ferns.  I hope the pollen count will be low enough this week to open the house back up and clean out the fern garden.  My fingers are crossed and garden gloves ready!

— Marjorie

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